Season’s greetings, Merry Christmas to all our friends and extended “Bondi Family”
2016! Already? Seems like only a year ago we were entering 2015! It’s always busy here, so we try to keep our recap brief – but we do value getting in touch with all our friends and learning about your busy lives as well!
Every other year we host a wonderful group here, gathering for their Christmas reunion from all over the country. They were with us last Christmas, helping us bring in 2015. When they are with us, the place is jumping with their energy and enthusiasm! Christmas weather conditions provided us with a perfect ice surface on the bay – wide open, it was the location of an endless and roving hockey tournament, from first light until dark. One of the great advantages at Bondi is that you can simply step out of the door and be on the ski trails, snowshoeing, or skating – no need to bundle up and then climb into a car to get somewhere first. We had some international guests too, enjoying a true Canadian Christmas season. Now, if we could find another family that would like to get together here on those alternate years, it would be great!
Temperatures dropped in early January. Really dropped. It was a cold winter. February was the coldest on record in fact, and we had 49 days when it was well below zero – far too often at 30 below. It is a dry cold, as they say, and yes you can dress for it and get out there. Our guests did just that, enjoying the ski trails and the evenings by the fire! Brian and Dave did a lot of work on our ski trails – they are among the best in the region.
January also brought a pair of bald eagles to our bay, probably lured by the wolf-killed deer near Farside cottage. It was a great year for the snowmobilers, with all trails open. February brought the winter carnivals, and the airing of Say Yes to the Dress, episode 13, A Little Bit Country, featuring our own beautiful bride Megan (and Dave!) Macleans magazine featured Napster and his artwork in the Feb. 22 on-line edition. It was our happy Media month! (you can find both on-line!)
March brought sadder moments. We said goodbye to one of our very long time guests, Christian Jaekl. Then Carol fell, badly shattering her wrist and setting about coping with a cast for nine weeks! It put a crimp into her activities, and rehab continues.
In April Brian underwent hip replacement surgery. While he had to skip about on crutches for a few months, he is now back to speed, and glad to be rid of that pain. He did in fact forget he had this bionic hip, and set off all the airport alarms later in the year.
The continuing cold meant that the ice was still solid well into April – the boys took advantage to head out with golfcarts and play a round of golf (including the water trap created by the ice away at the main dock). That ice left on April 27th, a little late but not that unusual. The tree swallows returned April 12 – a bit early for them. Barn swallows came back May 1st. Both these species, once so numerous, are now in strong decline, so we welcome ours with open arms and well built bird houses. We also enjoyed having two pair of bluebirds with us again for the season.
With both Brian and Carol skipping about with crutches and casts, the rest of the crew were scrambling through the spring to get the resort ready for summer, the garden planted, and the myriad of spring jobs done. There are a lot of ‘unseen’ jobs that happen to ensure our guests have a wonderful experience here. David and Megan were such a tremendous help, jumping right in to do any job necessary. Our long time housekeeper Sue Baker was (as ever) a life-saver, and we were lucky to have Mike Bechtel back for some short working visits. We did plant a slightly smaller garden but the growing season wasn’t the best in any event. Up and down weather conditions through the Spring didn’t help the plants get started. There was a bumper crop of sweet corn though!
For Nancy, May was the cruelest month. On May 13 she had to put down Blizzard, her beloved companion of 18 years, after he contracted a lymphatic infection that could not be turned around. Just six days later, Bailey, the grand old gray in the stable, suffered a gut torsion, and didn’t wait for the vet. The barn still feels hollow without those two grand lads within. She still has Abby, and the pony Squeegee and a few boarders, plus an ever changing flock of chickens. And Taffy, her beloved shadow.
|David and Megan escorting our Marathon Swimmers|
Summer was busy. That pretty much says it all. We had a visit in July from the S.S. Bigwin, moored at our dock while guests embarked for an 80th birthday cruise for Norman Williams. This was truly a gala affair, with a rented tent and catered dinner, involving virtually all of the Williams and Hadden families gathered together. That celebration was shortly followed by a sad farewell to Evelyn Hadden, the matriarch of the Williams’ Clan, and a beloved guest who has anchored our summers here for the past 53 years.
We added a very popular ‘kid-sized paddleboat’ to our marina this year, to join the SUPs, canoes, kayaks, etc. Trends come and go – right now it seems to be SUPs, nobody seems to remember how to use windsurfers anymore... next year it
will be something else, no doubt. We didn’t race Clams this summer, but that event will return in 2016 – hopefully with bagpipers to celebrate the Gathering of the Clams!
We lost our cat, Napster, to cancer on July 4th,, aged 17 ½. During his art career, he raised over $12K for various charities. Truly a remarkable feat and an enormous legacy for a little ginger tabby cat. Unusually, we are still ‘without cat’ but hoping that will change.
Nancy is the Deputy Mayor for the Township of Lake of Bays this term, as well as Chair of the Heritage committee. This gets her into some curious situations. In July, she was the tour guide for a group of 21 elders from the First Nations of Chippewa at Rama, on the S.S. Bigwin, sailing down the Lake to Bigwin Island and pointing out where their ancestors used to spend the summer. In July she was part of the PanAmerican Games ‘team-makers’, officiating at the equestrian games.
There was no shortage of wildlife around. The deer population has decreased to a more sustainable level, in part because they have eaten up most of the winter browse in the woods, and in part because of the active wolf pack currently here. These wolves provided a lot of fabulous Wolf Howl opportunities for our guests – while Algonquin Park for the second year running was not able to offer their fabulous program because their wolves weren’t accessible for the large groups, our wolves happily howled for us from so close by we started to recognize their individual voices. Brian, working on his rehab, was biking near the Firehall when he heard them in the field, paused, howled at them, and was answered by nine of them trotting across the field toward him to say hello. In August a beaver moved into the bay, and began his timber operation right at the edge of Lantern cottage’s deck – much to the entertainment of the guests within. He is back in the bay this autumn, clearing out some of the waterfront, opening up the view, as they say. Four snapping turtles dug their nests at Dave and Megan’s – these were swiftly protected by wire mesh and heavy rocks to keep fox and raccoon at bay, and all nests hatched out successfully later in the year.
The autumn colours have always been a huge draw in this area, but of late it seems they have been discovered by our new Canadians – Algonquin Park in the high colour season is jam-packed, as is the Dorset Tower. It truly is worth coming up to see the season, but we would suggest that you enjoy our trails rather than beat your way through the traffic, at least on the weekends. Our trees are every bit as colourful, and from the top of our Lookout, you can see the Dorset Tower.
|photo taken by Devin Crawley, from our Lookout,|
5 a.m. in July. Welcome sunrise!
As always, there are renovations and improvements happening at Bondi. We have no trouble keeping busy 12 months of the year! Our industry is changing – more people are going to the private rental cottages it seems. We are convinced that we still offer a better option, though, with amenities and on-site management and a sense of belonging that aren’t available through those unregulated rentals. We are very grateful to our returning guests who seem to share that point of view! We are seeing some of our neighbouring resorts calling it a day as it gets harder and harder to comply with the regulations and costs that apply to resorts but not to private renters. Once gone, those resorts will be gone forever, taking with them not only wonderful family experiences but plenty of student summer jobs.
This year it looks like we will be having a rare Almost-Green Christmas. We’ve seen this before – in fact, back in 1926 Grandfather Joseph went golfing on January 16, commenting “most unusual winter” There is snow currently on the ground, and more will come. Winter sports will happen – Hidden Valley is already open for skiing, our Frisbee golf course is fabulous this time of year, hiking cannot be equaled. Winter can happen fast, so we remain of good cheer. We like our changing seasons – in this era of Climate Instability, they seem a bit more changeable than ever!
We hope for all of you a year full of peace and plenty, good health and happiness, from all of the Tapleys’ at Bondi!